Manpacks’ Men’s Fashion Guide: Winter 2012
As the days grow shorter and the leaves start to turn (at least for those of us in northerly climes) we start to stare our closet and wonder what to do.
Assuming you took our earlier advice and did a seasonal purge of your linen and seersucker it’s now time to turn your eye towards some tailoring that’s more robust for the months ahead and some of the old, Winter classics and trends for 2012.
Tweed All the Things
Born from necessity in the wet and blustery isles of Northern Scotland, tweed is synonymous with fall and winter style for men. It’s also synonymous with ‘heavy, itchy, wooly’ in loud checks and plaids which may be well suited for herding sheep through thorny brambles but don’t work as well in a downtown office. Luckily, fashion designers and fabric mills are using lighter, softer wools and more subtle weaves to give you the hallmark texture and rich, earthy hues of tweed without the itchiness or bulk.
Tweed crosses over well from work to play (especially if play involves hunting pheasants on your country estate) so you can work tweed in as pants or sport jackets, or as accent pieces like a vest or even a tie in classic donegal, herringbones, and houndstooth patterns. Jeans and tweed work especially well together…and don’t forget to roll your R’s, laddie
The winter stalwart, flannel consists of a woven material which is then brushed (or napped) on one side to loft the fibres to a soft, luxurious finish. Often associated with Saville Row wool suitings or Seattle grunge cotton plaids, in any case it’s the fabric that says ‘winter is here’. Since most of us don’t work for miserly, coal-scrimping scrooges or as lumberjacks, flannel is now available in much lighter weights which offer the softness and luxury without making you break a sweat.
Stick with the classics—solids, pinstripes and even heavier chalk stripes or Prince of Wales checks—as these patterns lend themselves well to timeless winter suits. On the casual side, lighter flannel shirts offer a touch of luxe which can be dressed up or down.
The Shawl Collar
We live in a world where collars signal formality: a crew collar or v-neck tee-shirt says ‘play’ and a pointed collar says ‘work’. How about something in the middle, a collar that says you play hard? The shawl collar treads this middle ground while looking great to boot.
A soft, rolling collar that almost wraps around your neck like a scarf while also providing a framing V (with or without buttons) the shawl collar is stylish and practical when it gets chilly outside. And it’s everywhere this winter with good reason: it looks great in everything from chunk knits to sleeker fabrics.
The Classy Boot
Sure, we’ve all got boots for winter: great ugly things meant for rain and sleet and snow. Or maybe you toss on some Timblerlands or a hiking boot on the weekend. These are not the boots you are looking for. I’m talking about something more like a tall dress shoe, something equally at home out for dinner or walking at the dogpark. A boot equally comfortable with jeans or suit pants.
Look for leather or suede with traditional details like broguing (those decorative hole patterns), a wingtip or toe cap, and a welted sole. Higher lace-up styles, lower chukka or dessert boots, or even slip on chelsea styles all work. And once you’ve got ‘em, don’t forget to care for them with proper treatments and polishing to protect your image and investment.
If you can only own one coat, make it a peacoat. The dark-rinse jean of the coat kingdom, it can go anywear and its style works on just about any man in any situation. Tracing its lineage directly back to naval officers who used to cut down their heavy, long Great coats into this shorter, mid-thigh length double-breasted wool coat the peacoat is as manly as they come. Other classic features include large side or chest pockets, a large, flip-up collar, a cross-button lapel, and a throat latch to close out the worst of winds.
You can never go wrong with the peacoat in classic dark navy or black, although you can mix it up with this style in greys, camel, or even brown in solid or patterned fabric. Wool is the traditional choice, although waxed cotton, leather, or rubberized fabrics make appearances along with luxury blends with cashmere and alpaca. Belts, buttons, epaulets and other details can add some individuality too. Me, I like the classic: it’s a wardrobe staple.
The Double-breasted Suit
Yeah, yeah, get over your schoolboy giggling. This term doesn’t refer to, well, breasts, but rather the closure of the jacket: a double-breasted coat crosses over the chest so there are two rows of buttons. While single-breasted (still tittering?) jackets have dominated menswear for the last decade or two, the venerable double-breasted jacket is making a comeback, although without the comical excesses of 20′s gangsters…or 80′s Wall Streeters (is there really a difference?)
If you frequently wear suits as part of your wardrobe, now is a good time to consider adding a double-breasted model to your repertoire: the clean vertical lines can be very slimming and impart an authoritative, almost military formality. But remember, tailoring is extra important here to prevent unsightly pulling on buttons or boxiness that looks like you borrowed your dad’s suit. I’d skip double-breasted sport coats or blazers for now as they tend to look too yacht club or used car salesman; if you’re looking to add double-breasted style to your casual wardrobe, check out something in a cardigan instead. And as always, leave the bottom button undone.
As always, the main thing to remember is don’t be afraid to try a few new things (or, old classics) to keep your wardrobe nicely honed and your threads fly. Feel free to layer pieces together and try mixing patterns and texture both to stay warm and to build sharp outfits. And don’t forget to wear clean underwear and good socks—not that we’re biased or anything.
Have a fashionable winter and catch you in the spring.